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Zotero Tutorial

Step by step instructions for the use of Zotero citation management software.

Zotero Lingo

Zotero Standalone
Refers to the downloaded Zotero software on your computer.
Is the fully online version of Zotero (

Individual citations for books, journal articles,

Folder(s) that house your items.

Bibliographic information such as, item type, author, title, source URL, notes, tags, etc.

Get Organized!

 Zotero allows you to easily create collections in order to organize your research citations. 

To Create Collections Using Zotero Standalone:

  • Click the New Collection button "" on the upper left side of your Zotero pane to create a new collection (folder).

zotero standalone interface, with highlighted new collection icon as described above

  • You also have the option to create sub-collections (collections inside collections), right click on the collection name and choose New Subcollection from the pop-up menu.

zotero standalone interface highlighting the subcollection option, as described above.

Adding items to a Collection

  • After you have created the collection, just drag items from the middle column, and drop them into the collection in the left column. This is a great way to organize your research sources according to particular assignments/projects that you're working on.

NOTE: Moved items will still appear in the center column of the My Library collection.

The .gif below shows multiple items being selected and then dragged/dropped into a collection. *Video has no sound.

Create Collections with Zotero Online:

When creating collections from, you click the Add Collection button "" to create both collections and subcollections.

  • For new collection, enter collection name and leave the parent collection dropdown set for None.
  • To add a subcollection, name the subcollection then choose which parent collection you want this new collection to be placed.

In the following example, we are adding a subcollection titled "Statistics" to the "Social Work" parent collection. interface, highlighting the new collection and subcollection icons, as described above.

Adding items to your collection or subcollection:

  1. Check the box next to the items you want to add to a collection
  2. Click the add item icon ""
  3. Then select the destination collection/subcollection, from the dropdown and click Add.

highlights steps 1-3 for adding items to a collection/subcollection as described above.

Sync Your Zotero Account

Sync your Zotero Library

If you're regularly using more than one computer or device in your research, Zotero's sync feature can keep your library up to date on all of them.  Zotero can store a copy of your library on the server and check it for updates whenever you open your library on a different computer.

  1. Open your Zotero Standalone and find the Edit option in the top left, select Preferences.
  2. Select the Sync option, enter your username and password from your online account. Then click OK.
  3. Open a browser window, and go to and login.
  4. Select the My Library tab to view your collection of citations.

These should match the list of citations from your Zotero Standalone. The initial syncing should happen within a few minutes, if you do not see your citations included try refreshing your browser cache and reloading the page.

The .gif below demonstrates the steps taken in the syncing process. *Video has no sound.